If you are thinking about how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, this blog (that provides information about the things you must know before Mount Kilimanjaro Climb) can guide you through the entire planning process to stand atop the highest free-standing mountain in the world. In fact, you will get few significant tips on how to successfully climb the roof of Africa without being impacted by altitude sickness. Also, learn about the factors impacting the climb success rates. You get to learn about the things you must know before you climb Mount Kilimanjaro. We have broken down everything you need to know before you climb Kilimanjaro into two parts:
- Planning the itinerary for the trip to Kilimanjaro.
- Preparing for the Kilimanjaro Climb.
- Planning the itinerary for the trip to Kilimanjaro
- Preparing for the Kilimanjaro Climb
- 15 Things you must know before Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Planning the itinerary for the trip to Kilimanjaro
When planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need to focus on the date, route, and duration of climbing, and travel operators. Of course, there is a best time to climb Kilimanjaro for all, based on their own interests. However, you will need to keep abreast about all the important things you must know before you climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
1. Best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro:
Mount Kilimanjaro climb is possible throughout the year. The period between December to March and June to October are the best times to travel for Kilimanjaro climb because the weather is warm and dry. You will be able to enjoy the panoramic views as the weather will be clear during this time. Nevertheless, we recommend that you keep yourself updated about the things you must know before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
However, more than 35000 travelers try to ascent Kilimanjaro, and the majority of them set their hike to Mount Kilimanjaro during dry seasons. This high number means a crowded route, with exceptions to the lesser crowded Kilimanjaro routes. Just one drawback on the trails is that you will be deprived of a private toilet.
In Tanzania, the long rainy season is from March till May. The short rainy season is in November. So, if you are an avid traveler who does not mind a bit of rain, you can schedule a trip during the short rainy season to avoid the crowd during your Kilimanjaro climb. To deduce, there are quite a few things you must know before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, regardless the time of the year.
2. Best route for Kilimanjaro climb:
There are multiple routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Marangu route (referred to as the Coca-Cola route) and the Kilimanjaro Machame route (referred to as the whiskey route) are the classic trekking route to ascent Uhuru Peak. You can also choose from the Kilimanjaro Lemosho route, Rongai route, Umbwe route, and the Northern circuit route.
Each route has its own set of attractions and drawbacks. Some are challenging and are perfect for adventurous trekkers. Others are slow-climb and perfect for acclimatization to accomplish the summit night without difficulties. Regardless the route you choose to hike on, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the trip to avoid dehydration. Don’t forget your water bottles behind when you’re headed out to conquer the roof of Africa. And yes, the best route to climb Kilimanjaro purely depends on an individual’s interest and determination.
3. Optimal duration to summit Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro:
Although Mount Kili is popular as a peak that requires no mountaineering skills to reach the summit, it does not mean the trek to the top is easy. This highest free-standing mountain is 5,895 meters (19340.551 feet) above sea level. So, altitude sickness is the main reason most of the Kilimanjaro Climb fails. One way to avoid altitude sickness is to choose a route that elevates slowly and offer better acclimatization.
Another way would be to take more time during the ascent. By increasing your trip duration by a day or two, you will have enough time to adapt to the higher altitude and gain a higher chance of successful climb.
4. Registered travel operator for Kilimanjaro, Tanzania:
Kilimanjaro National Park requires a travel party to be accompanied by a registered guide/travel operator such as Himalayan Glacier for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Since you will be needing guides, cooks, porters, camping equipment, water, food, and more, you need to select a reliable travel operator.
Himalayan Glacier has been operating for the past 30 years with the motto ‘Explore the world your way’. You can either choose from our handcrafted best itineraries for Kilimanjaro Climb or tailor-made private climb as per your need.
Preparing for the Kilimanjaro Climb
You will need to gather all the travel documents and travel equipment, get vaccinations, and need to start the training to keep your body in shape.
1. Assembling your Travel documents:
You will need a visa and passport with at least 6-month validity to enter Tanzania. Travelers can get a visa on arrival if your country does not have Tanzania Embassy. You can check the website of Tanzania Embassy for details on visa requirements and application.
The airport closest to Mt. Kilimanjaro is the Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) which is situated halfway between Arusha and Moshi. Most travelers choose to land there.
Mount Kilimanjaro is closer to Moshi, so, you will find many trekking agencies in Moshi. However, Arusha, the safari capital of Tanzania, also has many options for tour operators.
You can also fly to/from Tanzania via other popular airports: Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Nairobi, which will extend your duration of the trip and you will have more time to get familiar with Tanzania.
Please note that you will need to present a return ticket at the point of entry to show that you have enough funds to support yourself through the trip. Travel insurance is also mandatory for trekking to Mount Kilimanjaro.
During the pandemic, the requirements may change frequently. So please visit our travel updates for all travel destinations and for Tanzania for updated information.
2. Getting Medications and Vaccinations:
We recommend that you get vaccinated against diseases like measles, chickenpox, flu, and more. Apart from the list of vaccinations recommended for Tanzania, you will need to consult with your doctor for the additional medication you might require. If planning for a high-altitude hike in Tanzania, then seek advice from your medical practitioner.
3. Selecting the trekking equipment:
The ascent to Mount Kilimanjaro is basically a hike. You do not need any special training or mountaineering equipment.
Himalayan Glacier will provide you with camping equipment, sleeping bag, and a down jacket, which are included in the trip cost.
We have prepared a complete packing list for Kilimanjaro Climb. (Although the blog is titled Everest Base Camp the packing list is applicable for Kilimanjaro Climb as well)
4. Starting on the warm-ups:
High altitude means lesser oxygen, and your body can react very differently in the thin air of higher elevations. So, you will need to keep your body physically and mentally fit for successfully reaching the summit.
If you are not used to doing exercises on a regular basis, you might need to consider jogging for about an hour for at least 5 days a week. This will help you against muscle cramps and hamstrings during your trek to Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro.
15 Things you must know before Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is an adventure of a lifetime. But before you embark on your journey to the summit, it’s essential to be prepared. From selecting the right route to preparing for the physical demands of the climb, there are several important things to consider. Here, we will highlight 15 crucial things you must know before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, including route selection, necessary gear and equipment, physical preparation, and more. By familiarizing yourself with these key considerations, you can ensure a safe and successful climb to the summit of this majestic mountain. Here are the top 15 things you must know before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro:
1. You can’t climb unless you possess an insurance
Travel insurance is a must when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, as it covers risks like delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel, medical insurance and lost or damaged luggage. Make sure to choose an insurance package that includes coverage for elevations up to 6,000m, as the summit of Kilimanjaro is 5,895m. The cost of such insurance is usually around $200. Don’t skimp on insurance, as a few saved bucks may turn your dream trip into a nightmare in case of an accident or unexpected event.
2. Remember, Kilimanjaro is a hike and not a technical climb
Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular and accessible destination for hikers, with a “walk-up” trail and no technical climbing skills required. It’s often referred to as “Everyman’s Everest” due to its accessibility and the diverse range of visitors, from experienced to first-time climbers. With an average of 30,000 visitors annually, it’s a great destination for people of all ages and backgrounds looking to test their limits.
3. Pack proper gear
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires proper gear and preparation. Pack essentials like a reusable water bottle, inflatable sleeping pad, sleeping bag rated for 0 to 10° Fahrenheit, thermal leggings, warm fleece pants, quick-drying hiking pants, sunglasses, warm head cover, sun-shading hat, and waterproof hiking boots. Carry a fresh pair of socks for each day on the mountain and consider using trekking poles to navigate rocky and steep terrain. Remember, hydration is key to a successful climb.
4. Book a local tour company
When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s mandatory to hire a local guide outfitter due to government regulations. Many climbers opt for all-inclusive tour packages that include transportation, food, and porter services. For an added experience, local tour companies also offer safari packages through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, adding value to the Kilimanjaro climbing experience.
5. Bring medications & prescriptions, if any
To prepare for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s essential to pack bug repellent, antimalarial pills, Dramamine, ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, sunscreen with high SPF, and any specialized medication or toiletries. These items will help protect you from mosquitoes, altitude sickness, and other potential health issues. Don’t forget to bring these essentials to ensure a successful and safe climb.
6. Take time to acclimatize properly
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro requires proper acclimatization to avoid altitude sickness. Adding extra days to your trip, climbing at a slow pace and following a guide’s advice can ensure a successful journey. Pacing yourself with the motto “pole pole” will help you adjust to the lower oxygen pressure on the mountain. Keep in mind that rushing up the mountain can lead to altitude sickness, which can jeopardize your journey and even lead to death in severe cases.
7. Be tactful to choose your route
Mount Kilimanjaro offers seven established climbing routes, but most visitors choose from the Marangu, Machame or Lemosho routes. The Marangu Route is the quickest, cheapest and most comfortable, taking 5-6 days. The Machame Route is a tougher 6–7-day ascent up the southern flank, while the Lemosho Route is a scenic 6–9-day journey up the western ridge. The longer the tour, the higher the cost, but it also increases the chance of acclimatization and a successful summit bid, as the success rate for a 5-day ascent is less than half.
8. Be Responsible – Leave No Trace!
Climbing Kilimanjaro requires respecting the mountain and leaving no trace. Trekking companies must remove all waste from the mountain to comply with the park’s “leave no trace” policy. Climbers can do their part by carrying their waste to camp, using provided bins, and properly disposing of toilet paper. Help preserve the mountain’s ecosystems for future generations by following these guidelines.
9. Peak seasons on Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is busiest during the dry seasons of January to mid-March and mid-June to October. To avoid crowds, plan your climb outside of peak seasons or choose a less popular route. Whether you prefer the social atmosphere of busy trails or the solitude of less crowded routes, it’s a personal choice. Proper planning and route selection can enhance your experience on this majestic mountain.
10. Target dry season to climb Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro can be done year-round, but the best time to summit is during the dry seasons between January-February and June-October. Avoid the wet seasons of March-May and November-early December for better conditions and fewer crowds. Opting for the transitional seasons between wet and dry can also offer a unique experience, but be aware of unpredictable weather. With proper planning, you can increase your chances of a successful climb to the summit of this majestic mountain.
11. Budget sufficient money
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a significant investment, with tour package prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 among different routes and companies. Additionally, lodging in a nearby town is required before and after the trek. A safari package can also add to the cost. It’s important to budget for these expenses and consider changing spending money into Tanzanian shillings for added convenience.
12. Don’t take Acute Mountain Sickness lightly
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common illness experienced by climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro, caused by the thin air at high altitude. Mild forms of AMS are expected, but severe forms can be fatal. The body adapts to lower oxygen levels through acclimatization, such as producing more oxygen-carrying red blood cells and increasing respiration rate. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and fatigue, but disappear as the body adapts to the elevation. Quick acclimatization may lead to no symptoms at all. Proper preparation and monitoring of symptoms is important to minimize the risk of AMS.
13. Not all routes have the same success rate
Mount Kilimanjaro offers 7 routes to the summit, each starting at a different point on the mountain. Summit success rates vary based on the routes’ ability to acclimatize trekkers to high elevations. Proper acclimatization is crucial to avoid altitude sickness. Choose a route that starts at a lower altitude, has a duration of at least 7 days and allows for “climb high and sleep low” acclimatization strategy.
14. Tips are expected almost everywhere
Tipping is a common practice for climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro and is greatly appreciated by the local guides and porters who work hard to make your experience on the mountain a success. It is recommended to bring $700-$1000 cash or more to tip the guides and porters at the end of the climb. These wages help support the families of the Tanzanians who travel from all over the country to work on the mountain. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated and is an important way to show gratitude for their hard work and dedication.
15. Don’t expect Wi-Fi and Electricity
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires planning for limited connectivity. There is no Wi-Fi or electricity on the mountain, so plan accordingly for communication and charging devices. Use this opportunity to disconnect and reflect on important aspects of your life, such as the path you are on and if it aligns with your values and goals. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be a life-changing experience, both physically and mentally. Take the time to ponder if you should re-commit to the path you are on or make a change.
You can schedule your trips from December to March or June to October, even November via different routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If you have spare time, then you could visit some of the popular national parks in Tanzania that are scattered in plentiful.
Travelers will need to present a visa, a valid passport, a return ticket, and travel insurance at the entry point. You can also get a visa on arrival.
The climb up to the Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro does not require any special skill. If you are in excellent physical and mental condition and are accompanied by an experienced guide, you can trek to the summit easily.
Are there any other crucial factors a traveler should keep in mind while planning for a hike to Mount Kilimanjaro? Let us know in the comments below.